Meet the Designer: Lucinda Guy

We were delighted to speak with well known Lucinda Guy about her work as a designer, the books she has published and what’s in the pipeline.

Can you tell us a little about your fibre crafting journey Lucinda? When did you first learn to knit, who taught you and how did you come to be a designer, tutor and author?

Luckily for me, I grew up in a family where a lot of knitting and stitching went on and I was taught to knit, crochet and stitch by various very patient relatives. I grew up in a time where it was the norm that women knitted, stitched and crocheted. Although fairly practical things such as school sweaters and cardigans were regularly made, fabulously dainty, knitted, sewn and crocheted dolls clothes were also created as well as fine cotton hankies with hand stitched lacy tatted edgings. These made quite an impression on me and I appreciated that beautiful, almost magical, things could be made if the skills were learnt. This inspired me to knit my own dolls clothes and bits and pieces. I was always knitting and making and there was always someone at hand to help me.

As I got older, inspired by the need to be trendy, I started to knit more adventurous pieces. I was a vegetarian, I could spin and I was concerned with environmental issues and I longed to wear handmade, pure wool sweaters.

On a school science trip to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, I found myself buying hand-spun hanks of yarn, Faroese socks and an Icelandic cardigan and I just knew I wouldn’t be doing sciences – I was hooked on Northern knitting. I became a potter’s apprentice for a while until finally deciding to go to art college where I specialised in hand knitting and constructed textiles.

Lucinda, we’re interested to know how you became a designer, tutor and author? Can you tell us about your current book, Kid’s Learn to Stitch, the third title in the series of ‘Kids Learn’ books you’ve created with your partner Francois Hall?

I was making collections of knitted children’s clothes under my own label and had just been accepted by the British Crafts Council to exhibit at what was then Chelsea Crafts Fair. Francois had been working as a graphic designer and children’s book illustrator for some time and it was his brilliant idea to combine his illustrations with my knits to produce an original, quirky look for my brochures and business cards. He also made fantastic, large cutout cardboard illustrations of children and animals that I was able to ‘dress up’ in my actual knitted hats, scarfs and sweaters and use for display – they were a great success.

The ideas for the books developed from there really – luckily for us the winning combination of illustration and knitted things was so distinctive and original at the time that it was snapped up by Rowan when we approached them with ideas for our own book.

We wanted to develop this style further by creating affordable, really well designed ‘how to’ books for children using a fun and interesting learning process. We were very keen to use simple, clear step-by-step instructions that children could understand and really enjoy working from on their own  – and Kids Learn to Knit, Crochet and Stitch are the end result.

Your first collections were for children and more recently your work has focused on Scandinavian and Nordic-inspired designs for adults.  What is it about the knitwear from these regions that gripped your creativity?

The North has always fascinated me, especially the long dark winters in those far off, ends of the earth places and I’ve always had a love and fascination for their decorative folk art and folk textiles. I’ve spent hours in the Nordic Museum in Stockholm poring over the embroidered socks and mittens – it is all so beautiful and inspiring.

Having designed garments for both children and adults, are there any differences and which do you prefer?

Children’s knits always seem ‘easier’.  When I’m designing and knitting up samples they are usually much quicker to make – then you can be off and started on the next idea. Warmth, colour and humour are vital elements in my work and I think that they are used to the best advantage in my children’s designs – I can happily create quirky character toys and then have fun incorporating plenty of motifs and embroidery details into the designs.

What’s next?

Many things are in the pipeline – a new publication and collection, products and shop.

You can find Lucinda on Instagram as @lucindaguyknitwear and we are lucky enough to be featuring one of Lucinda’s children’s designs in this issue.  The Dream Cardi is a textured A-Line jacket that is knitted using two strands of double knit yarn held together.

Find the pattern here.